How is your search through Proverbs for applicable verses coming along? I have been looking for help with my new life as a single. It does no good to read this wisdom literature unless we see it as applicable to our lives right now. We have to walk in these wise sayings….put them into practice. “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26).
Two kinds of reading skills help here. The ability to read a summary and pick out the main points is one. Proverbs 1-9 is an argument for pursuing wisdom and Ecclesiastes is a good summary of lessons Solomon learned from his own experiences. So read these sections just like you would a summary of a book. Seek to get a bird’s eye picture of what a wise lifestyle looks like. Then ask yourself: What would make up a wise lifestyle for me? What changes do I need to make? This is one way to walk in wisdom.
Solomon was an excellent teacher as well as a good writer. Oh yes, his sins became public, but he was a wise man who loved God and wanted to pass on what he had discovered. (Do you know anyone whose sins have been shouted from the housetops? Are they just to be tossed aside like an old shoe?) He used a classical teaching technique in Proverbs 10-24:22. They are short, repetitive, and visual. Put away those summary skills. You don’t need many analytical skills here either. Most of these proverbs stand by themselves. Think about what is going on in your own life right now and see which one fits your circumstances. One a day or one a week is enough. Write it down and how you are going to apply it. Then you can look back at it next month and see whether it just passed right on through your mind or if you actually walked in it. This is another way to walk in wisdom.
AN EXERCISE ALONG THE WAY
George Washington copied some Jesuit sayings which dwelt with respect for others–putting a focus on others rather than oneself. This penmanship exercise stayed with him all his life. One history I read proved convincingly that his good manners and concern for others molded him into a new kind of general who led very differently from the British generals and helped him win. You might have the children in your life copy certain proverbs and keep them in a composition book. Give it to them later and wait for God to work.
PUT YOUR GOSPEL SPECTACLES ON!
Proverbs is a rule of conduct, but be careful. It is not a salvation by works; keeping them is not a means of redemption. It is wise to live by them but very foolish to fail to see your need of a Savior. Let your failures push you back to the Lord’s forgiveness which is founded on the sacrificial death of Jesus. The gospel starts with God’s delight in you. When that becomes part of your experience, it takes you from keeping rules to desiring to please the One whom you love and who loves you. The gospel strengthens Proverbs.
Proverbs 25-29 were evidently discovered by someone during the days of King Hezekiah and inserted into the book 300 or so years after Solomon’s death. He had written them with the same teaching style but for some reason, not included them with the others. Chapters 30-31 were not Solomon’s. Did you know that Proverbs 31 was written by a woman? Wouldn’t you like your son to marry a woman whose character had been molded by Proverbs and the gospel and who had your son’s best interests in mind?
As you may know, I have two beautiful collies.
I love to walk mornings and evenings. They do too. But, we have a fly in our ointment. The male puppy is seven months and full of vigor and energy….and he is not yet trained to stay calm when he sees children or other dogs. His pulling and lurching are ruining my walks! “I am too old for this!” I said this morning. I need to control this puppy.
Don’t let an annoyance ruin your walk through Proverbs. Our rushed, interrupted lifestyle might do that. Get control of your phone. Walk, don’t run along this wisdom path. It takes some quiet…time to think and evaluate your way of doing things and how you are responding to what is thrown your way.